No words needed: 6 ways you can tell your baby really, really loves you
There is NOTHING like hearing your toddler/child utter the words "I love you, mama!" for the first time.
Seriously; it beats any previous declarations of love you have received by a MILE.
It can be a while coming, but did you know that even way before they can actually talk and string a sentence together, babies have plenty of ways of showing you they love you?
So worry not if you feel like a sleep-deprived zombie, wondering if you are doing everything right. If you are looking for some feedback that all those endless hours of feeding and nappy changing and nurturing are paying off, here are the clues to look out for; your baby's way of telling you she LOVES her mama (or daddy – you guys are great too!):
She can't take her eyes off you
Even newborns will gaze at your face and copy your facial expressions (just try poking your tongue out and watch him copy. Sooo cute!). Soon she will be 'flirting' – gazing, looking away, giving you tiny smiles.
And all this looking at your baby is good for more than just admiring your handiwork (Seriously; how did I make something SO gorgeous?!). Face-to-face gazing is also helping your baby grow important brain connections.
"Face to face conversations between you and your baby and the subsequent release of optimal hormonal levels into your child's brain will help develop pathways in your child's higher brain that encourage social intelligence, the ability to form relationship," explains Margot Sunderland, Director of Education and Training for the Centre for Child Mental Health in London. "The ability to 'light you up' is the very basis of your baby's sense of himself as lovely and lovable."
She loves to be in your arms
If your new baby cries when you put her down to nap or sleep, see it as a sign that she loves being in your arms, rather than fret that you are getting nothing done or that your baby is a "non-sleeper". After all; remember, she is used to being inside you, close to your heartbeat, lulled to sleep by your movements and voice. As she slowly adapts to life on the outside, try using a wrap or carrier, so you can hold her close to your moving body, letting her breathe in your familiar smell and hear your voice as you go about your business.
She smiles at you
Don't believe your mother-in-law telling you 'ah, look, she must have wind' when your little darling looks at you and smiles. In fact; new research suggests that your baby's early goofy grins may be her efforts at copying your facial expressions, and they are possibly the beginning of her wiring his tiny brain ready for more deliberate smiles.
Somewhere between six and eight weeks your baby will begin what the experts call 'social smiling'. By then, she is beginning to learn the association between you and feeling good: she smiles at you, you smile back, and love deepens. (Cry away, hormonal mamas; this IS all very heart-melty, we know!)
She reaches for you
From they are about six months old, babies become more aware of their surroundings and one of the ways they will show you how much they love you every day is by reaching for your to lift them up, or wriggle when other people hold them, as they would rather be held by you. Wanting to be held and lifted by you is a clear sign they love you and feel safe in your arms.
She is happy to see you
The joy your baby and child exhibits when they see you after a short or slightly longer (full day in creche, anyone?) separation, is an absolute sign of love. The same goes for the sadness and panic they show when they realize you are leaving the room or leaving them with someone else for a moment. So soak it up, mamas, all those sloppy kisses and happy tears, they are proof your are doing a GREAT job.
You are her everything
Very soon your baby will be showing you how much she loves you with much less subtle signals. When a stranger says 'hello,' your baby will check in with a glance at you as if to say, 'Is this person safe?' This is what the experts call 'social referencing' – all the connecting you're doing right now is encouraging a strong attachment with your baby and showing her that you are his safe base.
And while it can feel a little frustrating having your baby scream for you when anyone else picks her up, remember that this is just an important sign you are the most important person in her world. It is from this secure attachment, she will learn to love others and will feel safe to explore further and further from you as she grows.
Right now, though, mamas, enjoy every sweet snuggle and sloppy kiss, because this special time passes all too quickly!